[Bleach] Nobody’s Victim

He wakes to the sun slanting in his eyes, hot on his face and making him squint. He wakes with fuzz adorning his memories and a distinct sensation of wrongness. It’s heightened by the fact he’s absolutely and irrevocably late.

Yumichika throws back the blankets and rolls out of bed, groaning at the stiffness in his limbs and the strange fatigue that folds over him, head to toe. His head is a pounding-pulse of dull agony, and his eyes are gummy. His hair is a tangled bird’s nest, he’s nude, and for some reason, he feels sticky. Like he fell asleep before washing properly.

Belly churning, Yumichika staggers to his feet. Coherence slowly returns. His futon is an absolute mess. His shihakushou has been scattered haphazard across the floor. There’s a lingering scent of musk and perfume in the air.

His head continues to pound. He’s still late. And he can’t remember what happened last night.

Why can’t he remember?

In a haze, Yumichika pulls out a clean shihakushou and brushes his hair into some semblance of order. He doesn’t have time to find his sweater or apply the feathers so he is forced to go without.

The sense of wrongness continues to linger.

Yumichika never allows himself to drink to the point of inebriation. It tends to invite uncouth behavior. He would also never initiate a drunken one-night-stand. It simply isn’t part of his repertoire. Yet, current details seem to suggest that this very thing happened last night.

He remembers going to a bar with Ikkaku and a varied collection of their friends. He remembers having two drinks and sharing a dance with an adorable brunette from the eighth division just for fun. But he hadn’t actually been interested in her.

Yumichika doesn’t remember how he got back to his quarters or why his room smells like sex. There are empty and blurred spots in his memory. His head hurts. His reiatsu is everywhere, unrestrained.

Nothing makes sense. The fact remains that he is late. The captain won’t notice, but that’s not the point. Yumichika is never late.

He snatches up Fuji Kujaku and heads for the eleventh’s main office, pace hurried but dignified. He looks like shit, feels it even more, but pride keeps him from falling or letting it show in his expression.

It’s too bright outside. Yumichika squints against unrelenting sunlight. He feels queasy all over again.

What had he done last night?

“Good morning, Ayasegawa-san!”

Someone wolf-whistles at him. “Looks like someone got lucky last night!”

“Another one bites the dust, eh, Ayasegawa-san?”

Yumichika hurries by all of them, waving off the commentary and barely registering the words. He’s in no mood for witty banter or friendly teasing, though he does give pause at the nearest reflective surface.

His face twists with outrage. There are marks visible on his collarbone where his sweater would normally conceal them. Ugly, blotchy marks that spoke of an unskilled, overeager lover. How unbeautiful.

Yumichika is single. At present, there is no one who has caught his eye. No one who interests him. There is no one he can think of that he’d be willing to bring back to his quarters. Not a single Shinigami, male or female.

And he would certainly never consent to someone leaving marks on him. At least not where everyone else can see them.

Unease growing, Yumichika continues toward the main office, hoping that his suspicions are out of line. Perhaps Ikkaku can fill in the missing details.

The eleventh is quiet. The sort of quiet that comes from the morning after a late night party and everyone is too hungover to make noise or cause mischief. A part of Yumi is grateful for the quiet. Another part of him wishes for the chaos just as a distraction.

Also, it would seem he is not the only one who’s late. Ikkaku has yet to arrive, and the captain is snoring in his office, feet propped on his desk. Yachiru is curled on his stomach like a little cat. It’s almost… cute.

Head throbbing, Yumichika sits at his desk – really, it’s Yachiru’s but she never uses it – rustles up some medication and stares dully at the stack of documents awaiting his attention. As a fifth-seat, Yumichika technically has fewer administrative duties. But the eleventh division has always been unique. He considers himself a translator.

He takes all the reports from the division members and translates the garbled, scribbled nonsense into something worth sending into the captain-commander. Something coherent. Unsurprisingly, Yachiru and Ikkaku are the worst at composing legible reports. The captain’s are actually quite good most of the time, but he’d kill anyone who ever told.

Conversely, Yumichika also takes the official paperwork and translates it into something everyone can understand. Their captain is not stupid by any means, and he can read, but he doesn’t have the patience for the verbose official paperwork. He has the tendency to ignore it if it’s any longer than a page.

Work.

Work is good. It’s distracting. It keeps Yumichika’s mind off disturbing things that are already making him twitchy. He wishes he’d had time for a long, hot bath with strong soap and a salt scrub. He feels… unclean, a matter compounded by the blank confusion in his memories.

There are too many inconsistencies, things that deviate from every routine Yumichika has established for himself. He is never late. He never throws his clothing haphazard. He never drinks himself stupid. He doesn’t have nameless one-night-stands.

Ever. Not ever. Not once. Not before now.

Yumichika frowns. Something is not adding up.

The door to the main office creaks slowly open, and Yumichika turns, watching with mild amusement as Ikkaku attempts stealth. He fails at it, of course, but it’s laughable to see him try.

“You’re late,” Yumichika says, arching one eyebrow. Ikkaku doesn’t have to know about Yumichika’s own lateness.

Ikkaku groans, squinting at the overhead lighting. “Too loud.”

“Hungover? Why am I not surprised?”

“Guh. Not today, Yumi.” Ikkaku closes the door behind him and all but collapses on the floor. “I feel like shit.”

Rolling his eyes, Yumichika redirects his attention back to the paperwork. This feels so blessedly normal that it’s easy to pretend he’s not going crazy on the inside.

“Never fear. As I’m sure you can hear, our captain is not even awake yet.”

“Good.” His voice is muffled on account of his face being pressed into the tatami. “Oi. Where’d you go last night?”

Yumichika’s fingers pause around the brush. “Go?”

“Yeah. Ya left without saying anything last night. I looked everywhere for you.”

He somehow manages to keep his voice calm and even, betraying nothing. “You didn’t see me leave?”

Ikkaku turns his head and squints up. “I saw ya talkin’ to Matsumoto. Figured you must have snuck out.” He makes a face. “I always thought she wasn’t your… type.”

Type is a mild way of putting it. Yumichika has never and will never harbor an attraction to Matsumoto Rangiku. She is aesthetically pleasing, but the rest of the package makes Yumichika shudder. Though only Ikkaku knows this. Gossip is very ugly, after all.

“She isn’t,” Yumichika says firmly, absolutely certain. “It must have been someone else.”

Ikkaku sits up, mouth splitting in a grin, pain somehow forgotten. “So you did take someone home. Well, that ‘splains why you look like ya just crawled out of bed.”

Yumichika’s stomach churns. He feels sick but somehow keeps it from his face.

“So it would seem.” His lips thin. “You say I was talking to Matsumoto?”

He doesn’t remember this. Not at all. And that frightens him more than he’d ever admit.

“Uhh. Yeah.” Ikkaku scratches his head. “What? You don’t remember?”

The only other person who knows Yumichika has no interest in Matsumoto is Matsumoto herself. He’s turned her down on more than one occasion, having no interest in becoming another notch on her wall. Call him traditional and old-fashioned, but he’d rather surrender his body to someone worthwhile. Yet, Matsumoto always returns with greater determination. Like an unwelcome foot fungus. Not that Yumichika has ever had one.

There is a mystery here. And Yumichika suspects that she has an answer for him. She knows good and well how to be sneaky and underhanded.

“Yumi?”

However, it’ll have to wait until after his shift is complete. Ikkaku is suspicious enough as it is.

“It’s nothing,” Yumichika dismisses, anger boiling underneath the surface. Matsumoto isn’t the only one who knows how to be underhanded. Yumi is just better at hiding it.

“Ya sure?” Ikkaku doesn’t sound convinced. In fact, he seems ready for violence, which is probably the leftover booze talking.

“Yes.” Yumichika pauses. “But the very moment it becomes otherwise, you’ll be the first to know.”

After all, what are best friends for if not to help hide the bodies?

o0o0o

Subtle questioning informs Yumichika that today is Matsumoto’s day off. Which means she is in one of two places: her quarters or trolling the bars for her next conquest. It’s too early for her to have successfully acquired one, and he has no desire to go bar-hopping to find her. Instead, he heads straight for her quarters, intending to wait if she is not there.

Luck, however, is on his side.

She answers on his second knock, the languid nature of her movement suggesting she is already halfway to thoroughly soused. Matsumoto grins at the sight of him and leans against the doorframe.

“Yumi,” she purrs, entirely unwelcome. “Back for round two?”

The rage boils within him, mingling with disgust. Neither show on his face.

“Well,” he allows, “since I can’t seem to remember round one, a refresher does seem to be in order.” Though now the idea of touching her revolts him completely.

She wrinkles her nose in confusion. Too many syllables for her sake-soaked brain, he supposes. Almost a pity.

“We’d need Hisagi for that,” Matsumoto offers with a drunken weave. “But come on in.”

Yumichika goes rigid. “Hisagi?”

What in all hell does he have to do with this?

Matsumoto wobbles back inside her quarters, leaving him little choice but to follow. “Uh. Yeah. He started it, remember?”

“No, I don’t.”

She doesn’t seem to notice the ice in his voice. It takes all he has to control his reiatsu. To not strangle her then and there.

“Oh. Well, he did.” She flops down into a decadent nest of blankets and pillows, rooting around for something and pulling out a bottle of sake. “We were all thoroughly trashed, so I’m not surprised you don’t remember.”

Yumichika works his jaw for several long moments. Does she mean to imply that he’d had a drunken threesome with both herself and Hisagi?

No. Yumichika is absolutely certain he would have never consented to this. Much less allowed himself to get so drunk he is incapable of vocalizing his dissent. Especially with her. Hisagi perhaps. But most certainly not Matsumoto.

“I was not drunk,” Yumichika puts in acidly. “And if I was, that does not mean you should have taken the opportunity to add me to your tally.”

Matsumoto looks at him over the mouth of her sake jug. “Hey, we all enjoyed it. Hisagi especially. Like a kid in a candy store.”

Yumichika’s insides twist into a knot. He stares at her, the urge to do harm like a violent thing within him. But no. Not until he finds out what part Hisagi has to play in this.

“Where can I find Hisagi?” he demands.

She is too drunk to recognize the displeasure in his tone. “Best guess? Twelfth district, our usual spot. He’s celebrating.”

“Celebrating what?”

“Finally getting you. What else?” She shrugs, tipping the jug to her lips. “He’s been in love with you for years. Thought you knew. Everyone else did.”

o0o0o

The urge to bathe, scrub his skin raw, overcomes Yumichika as he escapes Matsumoto ‘s quarters. Clearly, she feels no remorse for her actions, playing as though it were a night of mutual passion instead of a blatant… rape. Yes, call it what it is.

They raped him.

Bile crawls into Yumichika’s throat. He feels terribly unbalanced. Matsumoto even sounded proud of herself. As though she should not be guilty, completely unconcerned about consequences.

Is it because he is male?

No. It doesn’t matter. Either way, she will not be allowed to get away with this.

First, however, is the matter of Hisagi.

Yumichika heads directly for the location given to him by Matsumoto. As the bar comes into sight, he can hear the raucous noise of a celebration in full swing. Laughter. Bawdy singing. Drunken scuffles.

Nevertheless, he steels himself and goes inside. Ikkaku’s voice helps him orient himself, and he finds his best friend in the back corner with Renji-kun, Tetsuzaemon, and Hisagi. They roar a greeting as he approaches. Yumichika manages a thin smile that’s completely alien to his face.

“Oi. I didn’t think you were going to join us,” Ikkaku calls, clapping him on the shoulder. He’d invited Yumichika earlier, but he’d cited business to attend.

“Yeah. Kaku said you were busy,” comments a red-faced Renji, clearly the drunkest of them all.

“I still am,” Yumichika says and lets his gaze wander over to Hisagi who isn’t at all trying to hide the way he’s staring. “Mind if I borrow Hisagi-kun?”

Tetsuzaemon laughs uproariously. “Mind? Why would we?” He winks, all boorish. “Been waiting for you to finally notice!”

Yumichika can’t hide his wince. He’s beginning to suspect that he’s been missing a large part of something important.

“It’s about time!” Renji crows and gives a snorting chuckle. He shoves Hisagi from the table. “Go for it, senpai.”

Hisagi, of all things, blushes.

Yumichika rolls his eyes, pretending amusement. “You three are incorrigible. This is business.”

“Is that what they are calling it these days?” Tetsuzaemon practically cackles.

Ikkaku, however, doesn’t contribute to the imbecilic commentary.

Yumichika doesn’t fail to notice. He grabs Hisagi’s arm, pulling the somewhat intoxicated man out of the bar with him while pretending his skin isn’t crawling at Hisagi’s touch.

Outside, surrounded by the cool air, Yumichika releases Hisagi and backs him into a narrow alley between buildings. He hasn’t the patience to wait until they get back to Seireitei and has no interest of keeping Hisagi’s company for long.

“What did you do to me last night?” Yumichika demands, seeing no reason to be tactful or play word games.

Hisagi’s blush deepens. “You didn’t like it?”

“I don’t remember it!” Yumichika hisses, and he feels his zanpakutou rattle.

His expression falls as though disappointed. “Oh.” His forehead crinkles. “Then let me remind you.”

Hisagi leans forward, as though intending a kiss. Yumichika immediately backpedals in disgust.

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to kiss you.” Hisagi looks confused. “Isn’t that what lovers do?”

Yumichika gapes. Pure and simple. Mouth hanging open in the most unbeautiful pose imaginable. He has always heard Hisagi to be a level-headed man, but clearly something has made him lose his mind.

“We are not lovers. We have never been and never will be,” Yumichika snarls, reiatsu surging, Fuji Kujaku desperate for blood.

Hisagi tilts his head. “Is this because of last night? Because I let Rangiku join us? I swear I won’t let it happen again.”

Horrified, Yumichika backs away from Hisagi again. “You…”

A hand reaches for him, like one might comfort a distraught lover. “Come on, Yumi,” Hisagi cajoles, using the name only Ikkaku is allowed to use. “I’m sorry, okay?”

Confused beyond reason, Yumichika whirls on a heel and flees. If he stays, he’ll do something drastic. Something like draw his sword and strike the delusional vice-captain down in front of all and sundry.

Something is not right here. Neither Matsumoto nor Hisagi are treating their actions for the heinous deeds they are. What is Yumichika missing?

Had he really consented? Why can’t he remember?

His own quarters aren’t safe, no matter how much Yumichika wishes to retreat. They still smell of sex and remind him of all the things he can’t remember.

He goes to the second best place, certain that Ikkaku won’t mind.

In fact, it is where Ikkaku finds him hours later. He’s nearly worn a hole in the tatami from his restless pacing.

“Tell me what’s goin’ on,” Ikkaku orders without any preamble or trace of intoxication in his voice.

Yumichika continues to pace. It reflects the whirl of his thoughts, the control that has continued to slip through his fingers.

“I can’t remember what happened last night.”

Ikkaku lets out a slow breath. “What do ya mean?”

“I mean that I have no idea how I got back to my quarters.” He clasps his hands behind his back. “Or who was there with me. I don’t remember drinking enough to be drunk, but that obviously happened.”

Ikkaku blinks at him. “Then… you and Hisagi?” He makes a vague motion.

“Not by choice. Or at least a choice I can’t remember.” Yumichika huffs. “This doesn’t make any sense, Ikkaku. He’s acting like we’ve been dating for months.”

His best friend visibly winces. He looks queasy, and probably for much the same reason Yumichika does.

“He has had a thing for you for a long time,” Ikkaku admits.

“So I’m hearing.”

A bit dizzy, Yumichika stops and drops down to the floor. He doesn’t even mind the dust right now. He’s too far beyond that.

“One of us is crazy here, and it’s not me.” His hands tighten into fists before he can stop himself, and Yumichika knows that he has to be a sight. “He’s built up some kind of sick fantasy and then let Matsumoto get involved.”

Ikkaku lets out a puff of angry air. He’s close to Yumichika now, but his reiatsu is a familiar and welcome thing. They might not be family by blood or name, but some ties are stronger than that. Yumichika trusts Ikkaku more than anyone and anything. If he didn’t, they wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

“Her, too?” Ikkaku questions, and his voice is sharp like a blade.

“She didn’t deny it. Neither of them did.” Yumichika rubs his forehead, feeling drained. Feeling, in fact, like he’s stepped out of reality and into an odd alternate dimension. “And I can’t remember a damn thing.”

Ikkaku kneels on the tatami beside him. “There’s no way you drunk that much. You’d never drink that much.”

Yumichika can’t even bare to look at him.

“I know.”

“I saw you talkin’ with Hisagi, but I didn’t think nothin’ of it,” Ikkaku adds, and now, there’s an edge of guilt. “We all knew he practically worshipped you, but…”

Yumichika feels sick all over again. He knows that Ikkaku has come to the same terrible conclusion. But he can’t bring himself to say the word aloud. It is one thing to admit it to himself. It is another to say it to Ikkaku, even if they are best friends. Yumichika still has his pride.

“Are ya goin’ to tell anyone?”

But Ikkaku already knows the answer to that. The only person Yumi would ever tell is the man next to him.

Yumichika grimaces. “The last thing I want is for anyone else to know.”

Silence sweeps through Ikkaku’s quarters. It’s tense. Queasy almost. Full of things that Yumi doesn’t even want to consider.

“So,” Ikkaku finally says, “where do we hide the bodies?”

Jaw dropping, Yumichika turns to look at his best friend. “What?”

He drags a hand over his bald head. His gaze is earnest.

“You can’t honestly tell me you want them to live.”

No, actually. The thought of ever interacting with either of them again makes his skin crawl. Much less the idea of pretending nothing has happened.

Ikkaku’s right.

Yumichika wants them gone. Dead. More than that, he wants them to suffer. For their last moments to be devoid of pleasure.

“I can’t kill a fellow Shinigami,” Yumichika tries to protest. However, Fuji Kujaku rages within him, eager to convince him that he absolutely can.

“No,” Ikkaku corrects almost idly, “we can’t get caught. There’s a difference.”

He’s contemplative now. As if he’s thinking about alibis already.

Yumichika decides then and there that Ikkaku is getting a fabulous birthday gift this year. No expense spared.

And with that, Yumichika knows he’s already made his decision. He will not be made a cowering victim. He will not allow them to infect him with their madness. He will not stand for this.

They cannot be allowed to think that this travesty is acceptable. That they can get away with this.

He must be smart about this, however. He can’t be caught or it will have been pointless.

Yumichika sits up straight. His smile is predatory and altogether too wicked.

“I have an idea.”

Ikkaku doesn’t even ask before he gives an equally fierce grin.

o0o0o

He goes for Matsumoto first, if only because her self-delusion is not as advanced as Hisagi’s. And the simple fact that Yumichika despises her far more.

He can handle Hisagi’s strange and stalkerish obsession. But Matsumoto ‘s blatant disregard for his wishes? That Yumichika cannot abide.

She doesn’t see it coming.

Not the blow that sends her unconscious. Nor waking up to Yumichika’s angry face in some abandoned building in a distant district. Just on the edge of known Hollow hunting grounds.

Outside, Ikkaku stands as lookout. He’s ready to come at a moment’s call, not that Yumichika anticipates needing backup. He had, however, needed muscle to carry Matsumoto ‘s unconscious bulk, while Yumi himself made sure no one saw them.

Yumichika’s first order of business is to disarm her. He takes Haineko and wastes no time in applying steady bursts of kidoh to the blade until it shatters into several pieces, not at all resembling her shikai release. Each shard clatters to the ground audibly.

Rangiku watches him with wide, outraged eyes. She spits curses at him from behind the gag. All easily ignored.

Yumichika folds his arms behind his back, oddly calm. His rage is an icy weight in his chest, but it’s managed. Controlled.

“You raped me,” he says flatly, refusing to waste breath on pretty prose or let Matsumoto pretend anything otherwise. “I don’t know how you managed it, but I know that you did.”

She stares at him. All wounded dignity and innocence.

His eyes narrow. “No is not an answer you understand. So you chose to take instead.”

She’s affronted now. Furious behind her gag.

A tremble races through him. From relief or disgust he can’t be sure.

“What you did was a violation. It is not excusable,” he hisses in her face. “You should be grateful I’m not seeking judicial recompense. At least this way you’ll die without everyone knowing what a piece of moral-less garbage you are.”

The feelings of calmness continue to grow, the sense of control over his life returning. He is starting to feel less cast adrift. Ikkaku is right. He needs things to end this way. No other way would do.

He draws Fuji Kujaku, and the zanpakutou pulses eagerly. No one truly knows the properties of his blade. No one knows what he can do. This is his advantage.

“I’m debating whether I should give you a chance to defend yourself,” Yumi muses aloud, dragging his fingers down the length of his sword. “But then, my wishes weren’t obliged either.”

A muffled stream of commentary emerges from behind the gag. Matsumoto ‘s eyes are wide in a mixture of fear and anger.

Control returns again, tenfold, and some of the past week’s anxiety bleeds away.

“In the end, I suppose, I am nobler than you.” Yumichika removes the gag, if only to hear what she considers an excuse.

“Noble? Hah!” Matsumoto sneers at him, her eyes flashing. “You’ll kill me for a night of pleasure? That’s overreacting!”

His fingers tighten around Fuji Kujaku’s hilt.

“No,” Yumichika says calmly. “I’m removing a blight on our society.”

“You can’t rape the willing!” Matsumoto argues, straining at her bonds. There’s something… calming about the terror in her eyes. “You enjoyed it. You weren’t hurt. I don’t see what you’re whining about.”

Sakikurue,” Yumichika says as his zanpakutou releases into the four blades, giving him access to its unique ability.

He can feel Fuji Kujaku’s hunger, can see the kidoh tendrils curling off his blade and reaching for Matsumoto. Ready to incapacitate or kill, whichever Yumichika wishes.

Ikkaku will probably feel this. Will undoubtedly know. But Yumichika doesn’t care right now. Can’t care to keep this secret when there will now be an even bigger and better one between them.

“If you had attacked me with a sword and stabbed me in the back, you would have done less damage,” Yumichika states icily, his eyes flashing as blue as the glow his zanpakutou has taken. “It is the mental wounds that have no cure.”

He cannot forgive someone who has no remorse. Such is the way things must be.

“Goodbye, Matsumoto.”

She starts to shout, but Yumichika ignores her, letting the power of his zanpakutou unfurl into the open space. Thick ribbons of reiatsu curl around her body, leaving her completely immobile and voiceless. The feel of her reiatsu makes Yumichika shudder, but he pushes through it.

The first pulse of stolen energy courses into Fuji Kujaku. Matsumoto jerks, eyes wide. Yumichika feels the vitality infusing his blade and by proxy himself. He rejects accepting the extra reiatsu, however, sending it wisping off into nothingness.

It comes more rapidly after that, as the reiatsu ribbons drain the very spirit of her. He leaves her nothing but the barest flutter of life, the barest rise and fall of breath. The feeblest twitch of her fingers.

She’ll live. But just barely. It’s a worse fate than death, really. She’ll never be a Shinigami again. She’ll barely be able to function on her own. Her lifespan has been reduced. No one will ever find her alluring. She’ll need constant care.

Yumichika quietly sheathes Fuji Kujaku and the press of reiatsu in the room vanishes. Matsumoto is unconscious her body twitches on the floor. He has no worries that she’ll tell someone.

Who would believe her? Far more likely that it was a Hollow’s attack. Especially since she’ll have been found in an area known for such. There was no such thing as a Shinigami who could steal a person’s very life pulse, after all.

“I still say ya should have killed her,” Ikkaku says as he steps into the building. If he notices the change in Yumichika’s reiatsu or the odd cast to it, he says nothing

“She could still die,” Yumichika offers. “I’ll leave that up to fate to decide.”

Ikkaku nudges her with a toe. “So you’re just gonna leave her here?”

“Someone will find her eventually.” Yumichika amazes himself with his own composure. “However, it would be prudent to untie her and collapse the building around her.”

“Heh. Finally.” Ikkaku grins now. “Something for me to do.”

Now all that’s left is the matter of Hisagi.

o0o0o

Even more so than Matsumoto, Hisagi proves himself remarkably easy to catch. Yumichika attributes it to the fact that the man lives in a fairytale land where he and Yumichika a couple. In love even.

Hisagi isn’t at all suspicious when Yumichika comes knocking on his door. He doesn’t question the invitation for a stroll in the moonlight. He’s almost giddy when Yumichika takes his hand, holding tightly, as though he thinks Yumichika will flee from him at a moment’s notice.

“Does this mean you forgive me?” Hisagi asks, his enthusiasm painful to see as unbalanced as it is. Clearly, he’s lost touch with reality.

“For what, exactly?” Yumichika asks in return, proud of himself for maintaining his composure. For being able to act normal even though he shudders at the feel of Hisagi’s reiatsu licking at his own.

“For inviting Rangiku.”

A shudder crawls down Yumichika’s spine. “Of all the things you’ve done, Hisagi, inviting Matsumoto is the least of which you need forgiveness for,” Yumichika replies.

Hisagi blinks at him, either a perfect actor or truly confused. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Here, surrounded by the dark of night save for a few stars, Yumichika whirls toward Hisagi. “How did you do it?” he demands, free hand curling around Fuji Kujaku’s hilt. “I wasn’t nearly drunk enough–”

“Of course you weren’t,” Hisagi returns, rather blandly at that. “You don’t like to get that drunk. I know that. But you needed to relax. I wanted to help.”

“Help?”

His voice is dangerously approaching an undignified shriek, which is more embarrassing than anything else in the last few days. Yumichika tones it down.

“How, exactly, did you help me?”

Hisagi actually frowns. “It was just some medicine. To get you calm.”

Medicine? He must mean a drug of some sort. Well, that’s one mystery solved. At least Yumichika no longer has to worry about himself having inexplicably drunk himself into inebriation.

He draws up straight, staring at Hisagi.

“Make me pliable, you mean,” Yumichika retorts. “More susceptible to your seduction. It was the only way you thought you could have me.”

An expression not unlike horror flitters across Hisagi’s face. “I’d never–”

“And yet you did.”

Each word is painfully enunciated. Yumichika can feel the rage building in him once again, more than it had for Matsumoto, though it is of a different flavor.

“It was not relaxation. It was rape. There was no invitation. Only drug-induced coercion.”

“No.” Hisagi is ghostly pale now. “No. I love you, Yumi. I would never hurt you. We’re supposed to be together! That’s how it is!” He looks desperate, pleading, hands held out in supplication.

His delusion is almost worth pitying. Almost. And perhaps Yumichika might have had a sliver of mercy within him… If Hisagi had not invited Matsumoto. Of all things, it is the lowest of that which requires an apology, but it’s also what tipped the scales toward revenge.

It is, however, that insane, obsession that will make Hisagi’s punishment slightly less painful and humiliating than Matsumoto’s.

Yumichika steadily draws Fuji Kujaku. The rasp of blade from sheath is painfully loud in the evening quiet.

“From Matsumoto, I took all but her life for this,” he says slowly. “I will not punish you as severely.”

Hisagi eyes his zanpakutou warily, one hand straying toward his own.

“Are you going to kill me?” he questions, and in his voice, there’s a hint of the steel Yumichika had always known him for bearing.

Yumichika drags his fingers down his blade. “No,” he says, the metal humming beneath his fingertips. “Neither of you deserved the mercy of death.”

Hisagi draws his own zanpakutou. “I don’t want to hurt you, Yumichika,” he replies pleadingly, grip on his sword uncertain. Too bad it will do him little good. The moment he’s within Fuji Kujaku’s thrall, it will be too late.

His sword is practically vibrating, hungry for the taste of Hisagi’s reiatsu. Desperate to consume the violator as he had devoured Matsumoto.

Yumichika lets a bitter smile curve his lips. “Not hurt me?” He releases with a quiet whisper, reiatsu tendrils curling outward. “You already have.”

o0o0o

When it is all said and done, the blame never circles around to Yumichika. It never even forms to begin with. They find Matsumoto days after her punishment, and as he suspected, they attribute her condition to some new form of Hollow. She’s hardly in a condition to argue otherwise. She can barely stay awake for longer than ten minutes at a time. Barely make her mind form words, much less speak. But just in case, Yumichika occasionally wanders by to bring flowers, fake smiles, and an implied warning to keep her silence for once in her life.

Hisagi, at least, is functional. He’ll never be a Shinigami again. Never be more than a helpless paper-pusher that the captain-commander took pity on. Still, he has something like a life. Yumichika even catches the former lieutenant gazing in his direction sometimes, his expression too complicated for Yumichika to identify. Guilt or longing or sorrow, it’s impossible to tell.

Either way, Hisagi hasn’t pointed fingers at him either. And Yumichika highly doubts that he will. No one would ever believe him anyway. He was attacked by the same Hollow as Matsumoto after all. It probably addled his brain in the process.

It’s only marginally easier to move on afterward. Yumichika still finds himself wary of any drink he doesn’t purchase himself or that Ikkaku brings to him. He can’t remember the last time he felt so vulnerable. And here, it is once again, staring at him with spindly fingers and dread creeping down his spine.

He wakes to the slightest creak in his quarters. He’s even warier than before about dating. Right now, he doesn’t have any interest.

“Maybe you should have killed them,” Ikkaku suggests one evening, when they’re sharing a jug of sake on the roof of the eleventh.

Yumichika contemplates his cup before taking a long sip. “It wouldn’t have made a difference,” he responds finally. “Dead or alive or punished, I can still remember. Or not, depending on how you look at it.”

He can’t recall details, but the knowledge that something must have happened is plenty enough to charge his nightmares.

“Still….” Ikkaku shrugs, kicking out his bare feet and laying back, head pillowed on his arms. “They woulda deserved it.”

Yumichika makes a wordless sound of agreement.

The option to kill them is not yet gone from the table after all. They are still alive.

For now.

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